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Baseball: Moore League Caps Season With All-Star Game vs. Suburban Valley Conference

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Long Beach’s best high school baseball players closed out another terrific season on Saturday afternoon as they competed in the Moore League’s annual All-Star game, this time against the Suburban Valley Conference at Long Beach City College.

In last year’s version of the “Pre Summer Classic,” the Gateway League defeated the Moore League in blowout fashion. This time, a much closer contest saw the Moore League carry a narrow lead into the ninth inning before the visiting SVC scored three runs in the top of the frame to win it, 6-4.

“We try to give back to the kids and we do whatever it takes to make it right for them,” said Wilson assistant coach Marc Prager, who did a great deal of work organizing the event. 

The SVC squad is comprised of the Gateway League’s five teams (La Mirada, Ghar, Warren, Downey, and Norwalk), along with three other schools (Mayfair, Bellflower, and Paramount) that play in the Mid Cities League.

“It’s pretty cool to see this talent said,” said Millikan head coach Ron Keester, who managed the Moore League squad on Saturday. “At the end of the year, you get to play one final game … against a league that’s really talented, and I think the talent that both squads had showed today.”

Despite the losing effort, Wilson senior Taylor Kirk was easily the best player on the field on Saturday, finishing 4-4 with a double, two runs scored, and a pair of stolen bases.

Earlier this week, Kirk was named Moore League co-MVP. He followed up that honor by receiving the Moore League’s MVP honors in this game as well.

“Getting to know all the guys was pretty cool, especially since it’s intense during the year,” said Kirk. “Obviously having a good day makes it even better, but I would’ve had fun anyway.”

Millikan’s Nolan Patterson and Ben Keisler also had standout performances to represent this season’s undefeated Moore League champions.

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Patterson was named Moore League Pitcher of the Year and took the mound to start the All-Star game. The senior faced one batter over the minimum in his two innings of shutout work.

Keisler, a junior infielder, had one hit on the day, and plated Kirk twice in both the first and third inning–with an RBI groundout and sacrifice fly, respectively.

“[Today’s game] was especially nice for the seniors,” said Keester when asked about what this game meant to his guys. “Our last game in the playoffs didn’t end the way we wanted it to so it’s nice for them to be able to put the uniform back on and end in a more fitting way.”

The SVC got their first run in the third inning via an error, before scoring again in the fifth, thanks to an RBI base hit. Both runs were driven in by Gahr’s Andres Gonzalez. The USC commit was later named the SVC’s MVP in Saturday’s contest. 

After Gonzalez’s fifth-inning single tied the game, Wilson’s Aaron Mingo put the Moore League back in front with a sacrifice fly that scored Lakewood’s Drake Merrill in the bottom of the inning.

The SVC answered with another game-tying run in the seventh, but it was deja vu for the Moore League, as Merrill again scored a go-ahead run in the bottom of the frame, this time on an infield single from Millikan’s Enrique Lopez. 

That 4-3 score held until the top of the ninth, when the SVC tied the game with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Gahr’s Joe Joe Eljaik, then took the lead with an RBI groundout from Bellflower’s Isaac Lacy, and added an insurance run thanks to an RBI double from Warren’s Fabian Ochoa.

In spite of the loss, Keester said, “I think it’s a good sign for the Moore League that moving forward we’re going to be okay. It’s [also] kind of cool to get to know the kids personally. You get to have a conversation with them about the year and about today … so it’s a fitting way to end the season.” 

While the Moore League wasn’t able to celebrate a victory, some of the quirks throughout Saturday’s contest once again proved why the All-Star game is one of the most unique high school sporting events in Long Beach. 

In the earlier innings, Keisler took the infield with a pair of Ray-Ban-style glasses that had a built-in camera, while Mingo and Patterson later took to Instagram Live while they were on the field. Coach Prager even got to enjoy the fun by capturing one of his mound visits with a GoPro.

“The glasses and the GoPro—I thought it was all cool,” said Keester. “It’s just cool to see [the kids] intermingle with each other, and get along as being part of the Moore League All-Stars.”

Following last year’s All-Star game, Moore League coaches expressed their desire to continue growing the event. They made sure to do so again this time around, with Prager noting that they’re still seeking sponsors for future All-Star games.

VIDEO: Moore League vs. Suburban Valley All-Star Baseball
PHOTOS: Moore League vs. Suburban Valley All-Star Baseball
Aidan Currie
Aidan Currie is a student at Long Beach Poly High School, with a passion for a number of sports, and other athletic events that the city of Long Beach has to offer. His favorite sport, baseball, is one that he has enjoyed playing for over a decade, and is also one that he devotes much of his time to. Baseball however, is just one of the many sports that he loves to document and discuss.